Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas! - Gift Review #1

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I hope your holiday season is going as well as ours. I was lucky enough to be given this whole week off work and I'm soaking up every moment. We are ALL sleeping in, spending days with family, and mornings at the park. I am so thankful.

Christmas morning was as magical as we expected! For those that don't know Jack sprained his ankle about two weeks ago and the healing process is taking significantly longer than we thought. So Christmas morning he didn't run to the presents bright eyed and bushy tailed like we hoped but he was still super excited! I'm not sure he knew exactly what was going on but the giggles, smiles, and ceremonial eating of wrapping was amazing. I love seeing this special time of year through his eyes.

As usual Max and I and our families went all out this year. We always promise to keep it small but our eyes and hearts are bigger than our budgets. So with that in mind I thought I would start a review series of some of the gifts we got. Hopefully they will save you a little headache if you're looking to round out items you got, or for any birthdays that might be coming up. Holiday birthdays can be hard, I know ;).

The first one is a review of my current diaper bag and why I'm moving to a new one that I got for Christmas.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Flying Alone with a Toddler

With a full week to recover from our flying adventure I think I'm finally ready to talk about it :)

Let me first say that flying with a toddler is hard. They are mobile, opinionated, and devoid of all logic and reason. And then if they are under 2 you are going to put this frantic, crazed, illogical, and non-verbal mess on your lap...the whole way.

We are lucky enough to live fairly close to my family so the plane ride is only 2 hrs. As I predicted the hardest part is the airport waiting time. Those 2 hrs you thought were bad when it was just you and you didn't know how you would pass the time so you binged watched Netflix and ate a scone and thought you were wasting your life...yeah those two hours sound blissful. This time I spent it chasing a toddler around and hoping TSA wouldn't confiscate my bags or declare a bomb threat because I had to leave them to keep Jack from going down the ramp towards a plane that was not ours.

So 5 things to remember while in the airport with a toddler:

1. Do everything in your power to fly with someone. Your third grade teacher was right the buddy system is the best system. Whether it's a friend, your spouse, your partner, your grandma, a mom cohort, just someone that can help you out. That way one person can watch the bags while you chase the toddler. Or watch the toddler while you go to the bathroom and pretend to pee just so you can get a few minutes alone. Things are always easier with buddies. If you just can't fly with someone else find where another family is sitting and park yourself next to them. They'll give you an understanding nod and smile and won't freak out if your kid screams or runs into them. It takes a village....even if it's someone else's.

2. All the snacks, but also the right snacks...because they are dictators and the want everything, but only the right everything. I carry a snack pouch in my purse/diaper bag at all times. It has a squeeze pouch of fruit, fruit snacks, and sometimes a bar of some kind. These are Jack's usual favorites. Plus on longer outings I carry his Munchie Mug (single greatest invention ever, except it doesn't fit in a cup holder....WTH?!) which had gold fish this time. Usually he loves fruit snacks but on this trip he decided they were sticky globs of poison that he would rather stick in his hair, on his pants, or throw on the floor....enter the gold fish. Variety is key people, but also All.The.Snacks.

3. Restraints. This might be a stroller, car seat, leash, or an actual ball and chain. You need someway to hold your squirmy toddler while you get things done or if you need a break. When you are trying to squat over a gross toilet in the bathroom you don't want to be wrestling with your toddler. Of if your a dad traveler you don't want your toddler reaching over to the next urinal. I don't know what that's like but it can't be good. If you finally get the coveted chair by the only outlet you want to be able to sit down and recharge your battery and you. You might be tempted to bring an umbrella stroller, don't. If you have to then fine but remember it's free to gate check no matter it's size so the bigger the better. Get one that can hold your crud and invest in the front tray for ALL.THE.SNACKS (see above) and toys. This will give you a few extra moments to enjoy the coveted outlet chair.

4. Bring a "lovey". For Jack that's a binkie and blankie but it might be a favorite toy or stuffed animal whatever they cling to and immediately calms them. At some point they will have a fit, they will scream, kick, cry and hit whatever is near them...which is probably you and like a 100 other people. So being able to pop a binkie in or cuddle with a blankie or squeeze a teddy just might diffuse the super awkward situation. And you win parent points with the on lookers. They think you are amazing and on top of your kid. When really you are crossing your fingers and hoping it works. Never let them see you sweat.

5. Find a window. Planes are cool, they are big and they make loud noises, kids love them. Let them watch out there as long as they want. We stood by a window for a good 20 minutes before he realized there were no planes there and he was looking at a loading dock...who cares. They love to take in the world around them, so let them! And it's a great opportunity for some learning. Teach them the word plane, sky, clouds, flying, pilot, etc. This was a life saver.

Side Note : Chasing a toddler does not lend it self to picture time. See tip #1

Once we survived the airport waiting it was time for boarding and the actual flight. We flew Southwest so everything will pertain to them specifically. We boarded between the A and B groups during family boarding. Because Jack is getting bigger now I thought an isle seat would be best. It would give us a little extra room to spread out. So we picked the first one we saw with an empty middle seat just in case it wasn't a full flight. We sat down and Jack was being a terror. He was throwing every toy I gave him and spit out his binikie several times. I was able to gather everything up myself but I felt a little out of control as people stared at me horrified as if I had brought a disease on board. Then because it was a full flight, obviously, a very very nice lady sat next to me. I could tell she was a seasoned traveler with her perfectly sized under the seat bag and fancy airport accessories like nice ear buds and a pillow. She didn't seem to mind Jack at all. Even when he threw his head back and smashed her arm on the armrest as the flight attendant was instructing me to put my mask on before his she just smiled. After that one fit he did great. He never cried and only thrashed a little. I ordered a coke, which I knew might be a problem but I was dying of thirst. With only a swig left he spilled it all over our tray. As I was rushing to grab baby wipes as they were the only thing I could think that would help me clean up she grabbed her air sick bag and let me put the whole mess in there. She even giggled when I noticed too late that Jack was pushing buttons on her laptop. I know she'll never read this but kind lady I thank you. You made my first flying trip so much easier. The world needs more yous.

The flight back was basically the same except people were grumpy about ending their vacations so no one helped me with Jack. One lady even rolled her eyes at me when I asked for her help. Jack was throwing his usual fit during the "don't die" instructions and he threw his binkie down the isle out of my reach. I leaned over as far as I could because his leg was stuck between my leg and the arm rest and I just couldn't reach it. I kindly asked the lady if she could help me and grab the binkie at her feet. She rolled her eyes and said "fine". Mind you she was middle aged and traveling with her family. Lady the world does not need more yous.

All that being said it really didn't go as bad as I most people say it would. I survived the tantrums and running around the airport and Jack had a grand ole' time. People will either be nice or they won't and you can't help that so do the best you can and make sure to be your toddler's parent and not play buddy. Keep them safe and enjoy your travels. Those big things out of the window take you some pretty cool places and it's so much more fun to discover those together.

And remember...ALL.THE.SNACKS.